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Richard Rider

San Diego Mid-Coast Trolley Per-Mile Cost in 2013 More Than FIVE Times 2002 Estimate – S.O.P.

[NOTE:  I wrote this item in the fall of 2013, but the lesson concerning passenger commuter rail is universal. The problems I found with the bogus projections for this rail line are CONSISTENTLY found in just about EVERY commuter rail line built in CA — and indeed the WORLD.  The only difference is the degree of “inaccuracy” — a.k.a. outright fraud.]

I came across the 2002 estimated cost of the [San Diego] “Mid-Coast Corridor Transit Project” — the so-called light rail line from Old Town to points north. It was $30 million per mile.

Doubtless because of “galloping inflation” (geezers will recall that term — used by President Richard Nixon to describe the 4.7% inflation in the early 70’s that caused him to impose Draconian wage and price controls), naturally this project’s cost today is estimated to be higher. How much higher? Somewhere north of $160 million per mile. Now THAT’s inflation!!

Well, actually, it’s S.O.P. — low-ball the costs to get the project approval, get the project rolling, and only later reveal the true costs. Liar, liar, trolley wheels on fire.

BTW, it’s fun to try to Google the current cost of the project. The SANDAG documents bury the cost deep within the trolley-babble. It’s like an afterthought. Furthermore, the “updated” cost is always wrong. And it’s always STILL too low. Always.

I sure hope SANDAG doesn’t actually PAY someone to grind out these fictitious numbers. Sadly, they do pay — and SANDAG pays a LOT. A below-the-radar agency, SANDAG’s pay and benefits are second to none — outside of “public safety” employees.

When completed, this trolley doubtless will carry only a fraction of the projected passengers. If it follows the pattern of previous trolley spurs, about 75% of the riders will be former BUS riders — few will actually get out of their cars. One analyst friend of mine estimated that the time saved by Mid-Coast trolley riders from Old Town to the UTC shopping center (vs. using the bus) would be about four minutes.


But there’s method in their madness. And it’s an evil, premeditated madness.